Woman charged with purchasing gun for felon who was in Nicholas County shootout

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A woman is charged with providing a semiautomatic firearm to a felon who wound up in a shootout that killed a Nicholas County deputy.

“Federal law prohibits felons from receiving or possessing firearms, and this tragic incident shows why,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Shawn Morrow of the Louisville Division, which covers West Virginia

Melanie Clodfelter, 41, was charged this week in U.S. District Court in Charleston. She is accused of purchasing an AR-15 style rifle for Richie Holcomb, one of the suspects involved in a shootout at Birch River last Friday night.

Holcomb was killed in the exchange of gunfire with Nicholas County Sheriff’s deputies. The shootout also claimed the life of Nicholas County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Baker and left another deputy with a gunshot wound to the leg. A criminal complaint filed in the shooting indicated the suspects were armed with an AR-15 rifle and 9 mm handgun.

According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court, Clodfelter purchased the Radical Firearms RF-15 multi-caliber rifle in November, 2021, for Holcomb.

Holcomb had been convicted of unlawful wounding in Webster County in July, 2014. The felony conviction prohibited him from possession of a firearm.

Federal investigators say when questioned, Clodfelter admitted she was aware of Holcomb’s previous conviction and that he was unable to purchase the gun himself.

Clodfelter is being held in the South Central Regional Jail.

She was arrested this past Saturday. She made an initial appearance on Tuesday, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dwayne L. Tinsley, who scheduled her preliminary hearing for June 14. Clodfelter faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

“Our law enforcement officers face uncertainty each and every day as they perform their duties and protect our communities. The crime alleged in this complaint underscores that grim reality,” Thompson said. “I commend the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for its swift and thorough investigative action in this case,” said U.S. Attorney Will Thompson.

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